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22 March 2016 • issue 293

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Don’t let anyone stop you. Take any opposition or prejudice on the chin.”

2// Beth Hoblyn Apprentice Maintenance Engineer, Estates Division “As part of my apprenticeship I’m doing operations and maintenance engineering for the College’s estates. I like knowing that I’m making a difference to people; the engineers keep the building running and without us there’d be no hot water, heating, lights and no electricity to make the experiments and research happen. That makes me feel good about my job. Engineering, and engineering maintenance in particular, is a very difficult industry for women to break into because traditionally it’s a male domain. Stereotypically we are seen as weaker and in fact I still seem to get offered physical help a lot. But I think women can be stronger in certain situations. In engineering you’ve got to be calm because things can go wrong. You’ve got to do things slowly, and you’ve got to think things through methodically. I think sometimes men can have a tendency to rush things. I come from a family of very strong women. Basically it’s a matriarchy. I think that’s where I get my confidence from. That’s how I know I can do exactly the same tasks as the men on the apprenticeship scheme do. I’ve always been told that I can do anything, and getting this apprenticeship has shown me that I actually can. To girls who want to do something a bit different I would say, ‘Don’t let anyone stop you. Take any opposition or prejudice on the chin.’

3// Dr Nathalie MacDermott Clinical Research Fellow, Department of Medicine (St Mary’s Campus) “My research at Imperial looks at genetic susceptibility to the Ebola virus infection – so finding out whether there is something in each person’s genetic makeup that makes them more or less susceptible to infection with Ebola virus. I also work with an aid organization called Samaritan’s Purse, doing disaster relief for them as a clinician. When the Ebola epidemic broke out in West Africa, Samaritan’s Purse were already working in Liberia, and they decided to respond. At the beginning of July 2014 I received a phone call to ask if I would be available to travel to Liberia to work in a treatment facility in the capital Monrovia. I flew out on the 14th of July 2014, originally for two weeks. I then went back to Liberia for six months from October 2014 to March 2015 to lead the clinical response for Samaritan’s Purse. Now I’m due to go to Sierra Leone to carry out field work collecting samples from control groups who didn’t contract Ebola to see if that’s due to some protective genetic effect. I think I always assumed I would be working with Ebola in a research capacity – but I never really thought I’d be at the forefront of the biggest Ebola epidemic the world has ever seen! You shouldn’t be limited by what other people think or by other people’s preconceived ideas of what you should do. If it interests you and if it’s what you’re passionate about then you should go for it.

Reporter, issue 293 - 21 March 2016  
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